BEND, Ore. - Father James Radloff was told in August he was being removed from his post at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic in Bend. On New Year's Eve, about 100 parishioners gathered outside the old church downtown to pray for the pastor, who they believe was a victim of injustice.
"Many of us feel that he was not treated with dignity and respect when he was relieved of his duty as pastor," parishioner Paul Imwalle said Wednesday.
He says Tuesday night's vigil was not a a protest, just a time for the congregation to pray for the former priest.
"There's many of us who felt Father has been dealt an injustice and so we felt we wanted to show support for Father Radloff," Imwalle said.
No one has said publicly why Radloff was asked to leave, it's a closely guarded secret that Bishop Liam Carey of the Diocese of Baker and Radloff have agreed not to reveal. In a statement to NewsChannel 21, Carey has said, Radloff is still in good standing with the church and that his removal does not involve any allegations of illegal acts.
Radloff has obtained an canon lawyer and is appealing his dismissal to the Vatican Congregation for Clergy.
"It's a very difficult situation," Imwalle said. "It's difficult for our bishop, it's difficult for our existing new pastor, as well as Father Radloff and the parishioners."
Another twist in the story: At Tuesday night's vigil, a flyer was passed out which had a prayer for the priest, the words to Silent Night, and a note at the bottom that read, "Authorization to gather on the church property to pray was denied."
"For us to have to be out on the street and on the sidewalk, especially me having been a parishioner 38 years -- I just didn't feel right about it. I wanted to be up near the church," Imwalle said.
For now, the parish continues to wait for answers, while at the same time many are praying for a priest they say loved his congregation.